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Scary Estate Planning Stories for Seniors

This Bradford & Holliman article first appears in Senior Directory for the Birmingham area in 2019.

When folks set up their estate plans, they often envision their heirs being delighted to receive family heirlooms from quilts to cash, but that’s not what many families experience. Perhaps your will isn’t the right place to detail who gets your personal memorabilia.

What, Your Executor Died First? We all age every day.  The executor you trusted 15 years ago may not be competent enough or even alive now.  Make sure you have a much younger backup executor in your Will.  You may have outlived your beneficiaries, too. Do you really understand “per stirpes”?

Late-in-Life Second Marriage?  What if your second spouse rewrites his/her Will to leave all assets to his/her children, disinheriting your children? What if your first or second spouse remarries and leaves all assets to the new spouse, disinheriting both his or her own and your children?

What, an Heir is Disabled? You never know when a future heir may have a disastrous wreck or debilitating illness.  A disabled person may lose government benefits if they receive an inheritance the wrong way.  A special needs trust can protect and complement government benefits.

Forgetting More Than Your Keys? Alzheimer’s and dementia have changed the world. Most of us will eventually require nursing home or in-home care. If you do not plan in advance for long-term care, you may be forced to spend all your assets on nursing home care leaving no inheritance at all for your heirs.

Have an Elderly Parent?  Guardianships, conservatorships, or spendthrift trusts can help in these scary situations:

  • Your parent has dementia and never gave you a durable power of attorney.
  • your parent is giving money to a telemarketer or a scamming relative.
  • Your parent refuses nursing home care but desperately needs to be in one for his/her own care and safety.
  • Your parent refuses to write a will.

Avoid these scary scenarios by talking to a qualified elder law attorney soon to set up or update your estate plans.